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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Top 5 Mixing Tips For Music Producers - www.StudioTrappin.com






Mixing is one of the most difficult parts of the production process to master. Time must be spent developing your ears, learning the ins and outs of your mixing software, and gaining experience through mixing numerous tracks. While the time and effort put into this part of the production process is necessary, there are a few tips and techniques that you can apply to your mixes to help speed up the learning process and help you get to a professional mixing level quicker. In this article, I will go over the top five mixing tips that music producers should be using.

1. Dynamic volume automation

Volume automation is often overlooked when mixing in tracks. It can seem quite boring to automate a simple volume knob when there are so many other fx and parameters that can change the sound in a more unique way. Do not underestimate the power of volume automation. It can be an incredibly effective tool to add more impact to your mix.
Here is how you can apply dynamic volume automation to your track:
  1. Place any gain plugin on your master channel.
  2. Gradually automate the volume down around two decibels 3 bars before each section change and then bring it back to unity when the following section plays. For example, right before the breakdown, gradually automate the volume down two decibels and then bring it back up to zero when the breakdown plays.
  3. Do this for each section change.
Adding volume automation will give each section more impact as the human ear will perceive the section as louder. As the volume automation drops by two decibels, the human ear won’t notice a drop in volume and when the volume is brought back to unity, the new section will appear to have more impact without sounding like the volume was boosted. 



2. Have correct panning positions

Having the correct panning positions of your instruments is important for the overall balance of your mix. There are only five different panning positions that the human ear can perceive at one time.
  1. Middle Left
  2. Hard Left
  3. Center
  4. Middle Right
  5. Hard Right
When you are deciding where to put the elements in your mix, choose one of these panning positions for a clean and balanced mix.

3. EQ in key

When we think about having our track in key, we usually only think about the notes that are played by the various instruments in our track. In the mixing process, we can also mix in key to create a more balanced and harmonically pleasing mix. Every frequency has a corresponding note on your piano roll as a note is just a snapshot of a specific frequency.  You can view a chart here to view all the specific frequencies and their notes. Knowing this, we can EQ our sounds in the key of our track. If you are looking to boost the high end of a specific sound, then go into the frequencies of musical notes chart and find a frequency that is close to the one you were trying to boost that is in the key of your track. For example, if your track is in the key of C major and you are looking to boost the high end of your track at 6,600 kHz, then boost at 7,040 kHz instead. The note that corresponds with 6,600 kHz is G sharp, which is not a note that is in the key of C major. The note corresponding to 7,040 kHz is A which is in the key of your track. The next time you are looking to put an EQ boost on any of your sounds, add take a look at the frequencies of musical notes chart and pick a frequency that is in the key of your track. 

4. Monitor at low volumes

Monitoring at an appropriate volume is crucial for the success of your track’s mix. The Fletcher Munson Curve states that certain frequencies will appear louder and quieter at different listening levels. 60 decibels is the optimal monitoring level according to the curve. If you monitor at higher volumes, the mid-range frequencies will fall to the background while the high and low frequencies will pop out. If you monitor at lower volumes, the lows and highs fade into the background and the mid-range sticks out. All your mixing decisions are based off what you are hearing. If you are hearing frequencies that are misrepresented, then you are going to mix your track in a way that is inaccurate. This is why it is so important to monitor at the 60 decibel level. Imagine if you were a painter wearing glasses with one cracked lens. Your damaged lens would skew your vision making it impossible for you to paint accurately. You would paint what you see through your damaged lenses, not what is really there.





5. Keep your high frequencies in check

Modern mixes are bright and clear. Often, producers add too many high frequencies to their mixes in the hopes of achieving the level of brightness heard in a top record. This frequently leads to an imbalance in the high end of your track. Yes, certain instruments need to be present and bright in the high end, but don’t overdo it. To make sure you are not adding too many high frequencies to your track you can follow these steps:
  1. Group all your high frequency elements together in your DAW.
  2. Throw on a multiband compressor and set one of the bands from 5kHz to 20kHz and lower the threshold a few decibels. The goal should be to have only a small amount of gain reduction, no more than two decibels.
Applying this multiband compressor on your high frequency elements will help control the high end and make sure you have a balanced mix. 
Clarity, cohesion, and power are all characteristics of a professional mix. By applying the five tips listed above to your productions, you will instantly start to see improvements in your mix. With practice and development, these tips will help you achieve the level of mixes that you know you are capable of creating. Apply these tips to your mixes and keep learning and improving!



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4 Songwriting Exercises To Get You Out Of A Rut - www.StudioTrappin.com



4 Songwriting Exercises To Get You Out Of A Rut


Feeling lost and uninspired as a songwriter is a pretty awful feeling. When the flow of ideas narrows down to a trickle without warning or explanation, songwriters usually have to change up their process to get things moving again. If you’re feeling creatively stuck making music, we’ve got four exercises to promote inspiration and put you in a new musical mindset:

1. Write music in a new, unfamiliar place

Whether it’s overt or not, the locations we make music in influences our work in a big way. This means that making music in the same place day after day could lead to a lack of new ideas and meaning in your music. By taking different elements of your songwriting practice to new, unfamiliar places, you’ll have a better chance at hearing things differently and unlocking the potential of your music. Some parts of your process will be harder to move around than others (drums, for example), but even writing lyrics or producing somewhere different than you’re used to can be a big help.



2. Make music on a different instrument than what you’re used to 

Musicians often equate proficiency on their main instrument with songwriting prowess to their great creative peril. When the temptation to make music that feels safe and “correct” crowds everything else out, creativity suffers in a big way. A great way to combat this is to try writing with instruments you’re not used to playing. For example, if you’ve never written with keys, consider getting a small MIDI keyboard and going to town.
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3. Start your process in a way you’ve never tried before

Every songwriter relies on a certain set of processes to create music. If you’re unhappy with the music you’re making, consider identifying the way you write and changing your process from the ground up. This especially applies to the very first thing you do to write music. If you usually start writing by strumming an acoustic guitar in your studio, try composing beats on a drum machine first, or scrawling down lyrics in your notebook. Writing in a new way from the very beginning will put you in altered mindset.



4. Experiment with extremes in tempo, pitch, and form

Extremes make for incredible inspiration for uninspired songwriters. Sometimes new ideas can’t happen in music without experimenting with sounds that are dramatically different from what we’re used to hearing. Something like trying to write a song set at 60 BPM, or writing a melody in the Locrian mode might not result in a finished song you’d actually release, but it will get you hearing and thinking in new ways. If you’re bored with music, you should be looking for ways to create in new and unsafe ways compared to what you’re used to.
One of the best things you can do for your music is to try to understand yourself as a writer by taking stock of your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re unhappy with your process, not trying anything new won’t improve your circumstances no matter how talented you are. Your listeners expect you to create new and interesting music. To give them what that, you’ll have to keep updating and reinventing your process over and over again.



5 Tips To Add Creativity To Your Music - www.StudioTrappin.com



5 Tips To Add Creativity To Your Music


As music producers who continually work on song after song, we can easily fall into habits. We may find a certain sample that we always use in our productions, use the same synth for our basslines, or create songs in the same key. These habits can end up hurting your music in the long run if you do not evolve as a producer. To help you break out of your comfort zone as a producer, I have listed five ways for you to add creativity to your music below. 

Use a new instrument

When we find an instrument that we enjoy using, we often stick with it. While this isn’t necessarily an issue, we often just become too accustomed to how the instrument sounds. If we continually produce with the same sound over and over, we can begin to lose our creative inspiration. By using a new instrument we give our ears something fresh and exciting which can help generate new ideas that would not have been possible unless this switch was made. This does not mean you have to pick out a completely new instrument and learn how to play it from scratch. If you are a guitar player, you can simply look for a guitar that has a different sound than your current one. The guitar player doesn’t have to go out, buy a drum set, and take drum lessons in order to gain this inspiration. 

The crazy delay

Delays are one of the most basic mixing effects. No matter what type of song you are working on, you are most likely going to be adding a delay effect on at least one of your tracks. Most producers just put the delay on a particular sound or sounds in the mix, dial in the settings of the delay and call it done. While this is an effective way to use a delay, it limits your creativity. Open a send/return track in your DAW and place a delay on this channel. Next place a modulation plugin after the delay. Any modulation effect will work here. You can add a chorus, phaser, flanger, another delay, or any combination of modulation plugins. Doing this will add another layer of sonic interest to the delay and allow you to create unique delay effects. Experimentation is key here. 

Resample



Resampling is the process of taking your MIDI track or your already existing audio track and bouncing the track down to a single audio file. By doing this, all the processing that you have done on your audio and MIDI track will be visually shown in that single audio file and you can manipulate it even further. Resampling opens up new creative ways for you to manipulate your sounds. To accomplish this resampling, open up a new audio track and route the track that you want resampled into it. Make sure the new audio track that you created is armed and ready to record. Solo just the track you want to resample and the empty audio track and hit record. This will print out the audio of the track you want resampled in the new audio track that you created. Once you have this new audio file, you can start to experiment with audio processing to create new unexplored sounds. Here are a few ways you can be creative with your newly resampled audio.
  1. Reverse certain parts of the audio.
  2. Chop up and rearrange the audio.
  3. Pitch around the entire audio or certain parts of the audio.
  4. Add more effect plugins on the audio and resample it out again.

Produce in a new environment

The production environment that you are in has a direct influence on your creativity. The bulk of your production sessions will be in the same room where your studio monitors are, but not every session has to be in this room. When you are in the creative stages of your track, you don’t necessarily need to have your studio setup with you. The goal of the creative session is to get your ideas out into the DAW in the form of a rough draft. This rough draft will not require you to have the optimal listening environment. When finding a new location, look for a place that you think may inspire you. Anywhere from a coffee shop, to your friend’s house, or your local park can be a place that fosters creativity.  

Be patient

One of the best ways to bring a creative mindset to your music is to take a break from the track that you are working on. When we work on a particular song, we are listening to the track over and over. Our brains get used to this sound and it becomes harder for us to implement new ideas. After you have run into a wall when producing a particular track, take between one and three weeks off from working on that particular track. When you finally open the track that you were stuck on, your ears will be fresh and you will be able to generate new ideas much easier.
Creativity is about breaking free from the normal and repetitive. As humans, we are creatures of habit and our habitual nature can hinder our creativity as artists. By applying one or any combination of the five tips above, you will be able to break free from your daily music production habits and bring creativity back into your music.


Monday, June 24, 2019

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